WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Tuesday, July 5th, I conducted the fifth Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (SKIFF) trip of the 2022 season.

Joining me was Mrs. Rochelle Masteller and her three kids, Lillie (age 13), Grace (age 9), and Harrison (age 6).

Mrs. Masteller’s husband, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Bruce Masteller, is currently deployed. He has served for 19 years. Rochelle is a U.S. Army veteran who did four years in an administrative role.

ABOUT SKIFF: This fishing trip was provided to this military family at no charge. S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun. This program began in May of 2009. It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and other organizations they have partnered with. S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing. SKIFF trips are also provided, free of charge, to Gold Star families who have lost their service member while he or she was on active duty. In mid-2019, SKIFF also began providing trips to dependents whose parents are bona fide disabled veterans. I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX, year ’round. Call or text 254.368.7411.

Here is how the fishing went …


My next openings will be on July 12th – 14th. Weekday mornings are always best. Saturdays are available for on-the-water sonar training sessions (only) until after Labor Day when I’ll again offer Saturday morning fishing trips (until mid-March 2023).

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PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Harrison, Rochelle, “Flat Daddy” Bruce in yellow shirt, Grace, and Lillie Masteller with a few of the mature white bass we took on Lake Belton during the 2022 season’s 5th SKIFF program trip just for military kids separated from their parents.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Did you catch this in the photo above?!?


WHEN WE FISHED: Tuesday, 31 May 2022


What a neat family I got to fish with today! Yes, SFC Bruce Masteller is deployed, but, a miniaturized “flat” version of him still gets to participate in family activities while he’s gone. Mom (Rochelle) is from near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border where she grew up fishing from the bank for walleye and perch in Lake Erie. As we got to talking about this, she fondly recalled the Walleye and Wine Festival and the Perch and Pilsner Festival celebrated each year in her hometown of Ashtabula.

She and Bruce had taken the kids fishing before, but never from a boat, and never with spinning gear, so, we had some fundamentals about boat safety and gear we had to go over before the fishing started.

Whenever there is such a gap in ages with the kids I have onboard, the fishing becomes a bit challenging. Lillie (age 13) was a very capable assistant who aided me greatly in helping to make her siblings successful. The challenge lie in finding sufficient action, and over a 3.5 hour time span, to keep my youngest member of the crew (Harrison, at age 6) engaged in the summer season when fishing is typically tough.

We switched back and forth between downrigging (to find and catch fish), to working MAL Dense lures vertically (to capitalize on what we’d found), and “going fast” (Grace’s favorite) from one fishing area to another, all to keep it interesting for the kids. That, plus a few well-timed snacks, a visit to the waterfall, and the assignment of kid-specific tasks (placing fish in livewell, culling fish for photos, releasing fish, rigging up downriggers, stowing gear for travel, etc.) kept everyone in the game. And, thanks to mom-wisdom, we had a learn-to-read video game onboard for Harrison, just in case.

As is often the case in the summer, the white bass are widely dispersed, with many small schools spread all over the lake hunting the easily-fed-upon young-of-the-year shad. Still, there are concentrations of fish to be found in areas where an abundance of these small schools work independently of one another — typically where a lot of bait is seen on sonar. Such was the case today, hence, all of our fish caught came from but two areas, each spanning just 1-3 acres in size.

A complete description of the vertical “smoking:” method is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSvfXgrAUE

Our 34 fish catch included exactly 31 white bass, 1 short hybrid striper, 1 sunfish, and 1 blue catfish.

The entire family of MAL Lures is found here: https://whitebasstools.com/

TALLY: 34 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS: This post-holiday Tuesday saw lighter than average weekday boat traffic on the lake — very enjoyable. Here was the water temperature profile:

0 feet 85.1F
5 feet 85.1F
10 feet 85.1F
15 feet 85.1F
20 feet 85.0F
25 feet 83.4F
30 feet 81.2F
35 feet 78.2F
40 feet 74.2F
45 feet 69.9F
50 feet 65.6F
55 feet 63.2F
60 feet 62.0F


Start Time: 6:30A

End Time: 10:15A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F

Elevation: 5.83 feet low, 0.02’ fall in last 24 hours, 32 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp: 85.1F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSE9-13 all morning.

Sky Condition: 50-60% white cloud cover on a blue sky all afternoon.

Moon Phase: Waxing crescent moon at 34% illumination.

GT = N/A


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Areas B0205G & B0031G

Bob Maindelle

Full-time, Professional Fishing Guide and Owner of Holding the Line Guide Service

Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bobmaindelle

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Bob Maindelle, 254-368-7411
Holding The Line Guide Service
Stillhouse & Belton
Ask About Trips for Kids